Long tradition: pop music “borrowing” from classical music

Posted on: December 11, 2018

“Popular musicians have been stealing from classical music for ever,” writes Ivan Hewett in Tuesday’s (12/11) Telegraph (U.K.). “The crime goes back at least as far as the 1938 song My Reverie, based on Debussy, and the 1953 musical Kismet, lifted almost entirely from the Russian composer Borodin…. There’s Procul Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, a nifty amalgamation of two pieces by Bach, S Club 7’s Natural, one of many songs that borrows from Fauré’s Pavane, Radiohead’s Exit Music for a Film, which leans heavily on Chopin’s Fourth Prelude. Last month, at the Ceremony of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, I was amused to hear a shameless rip-off of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, in McFly’s hit Born to Fly.… What gives classical music its extraordinary power is the combination of an archetypal and therefore simple harmonic and melodic template, with a twist that makes it seem new. Take Pachelbel’s Canon, the basis of numerous pop songs including the Pet Shop Boys’ Go West. Pachelbel didn’t invent that irresistible repeating bass, which was a commonplace of Renaissance music. But the contrapuntal pile-up he contrived over the top gave it new life.”

Posted December 11, 2018